07 Jul Dining in Aruba
Time & distance can do strange things to a man’s head. Just a heartbeat in time ago I was splish sploshing my way through puddles on my way to a restaurant during a typical Irish ‘Summer evening’. Now here I am, shoeless, strolling along the soft white sands of Palm Beach in breathtaking Aruba instead of trying to avoid getting wet now deliberately letting my feet feel the warm Caribbean Sea as I make my way to a sunset dinner with my family.
My destination for this evening is the very highly regarded Pure Ocean Restaurant, a standalone restaurant though it’s part of the Divi Aruba Phoenix Hotel. As you arrive, you are struck by it’s chilled & relaxed atmosphere, with tables and chairs placed strategically amongst palm trees on the beach. Should you be one of those rare people that does not fancy having soft white sand massage your feet while you dine, the main restaurant resembles a giant open air Palapa with no windows or doors (no need for A/C here with cooling Caribbean breezes blowing through!)
As the sun began to set the sky filled with a ‘borealis-like’ array of pinks, purples and oranges. The sort of sunsets you only ever see in the Caribbean. Glasses clinked at multiple tables as another day began to end with the sun perceptibly slipping over the horizon. Though romantic to a tee as a location, romance was not naturally to the fore with a 7 year old in toe. The restaurant itself though welcomes everyone as was evident by the clientele that evening with sufficient space between tables to ensure you never impact on anyone else’s romantic soirée.
In Aruba though the national languages are Dutch and Papiamento, pretty much everyone speaks excellent English especially in tourism so all menu’s are easy to understand. This is just aswell as the range of choice from which to choose was tantalisingly delightful. We started with the waitress’s suggestion of their signature ‘Potato Stacker’ (Fresh potato chips crispy golden with creamy cheese sauce, jalapeños, grilled chicken, zesty Pico de Gallo tomato lime salsa) starter which we shared. Being an island nation a large part of the diet revolves around fish which we were keen to explore as there are many types with which we are not too familiar in northern climes such as Mahi Mahi, Grouper, Flying Fish and many others. Because of the Aruba’s close proximity to South America and the many nationalities that live on there, island cuisine tends to be a magnificent cornucopia of flavours, tastes and combinations that just leaves you gasping for more. Coconut curry’s, fruit salsa’s, chutney’s and creole delights combine with local twists to ensure no two meals are ever alike.
As we relaxed between courses a sultry breeze continued to waft off the sea, the sounds of a party drifted down from a nearby hotel and slowly the moon rose casting its pale shadow. As it did the youngest member of our party with typical observation noticed a much brighter star than all others which we later found out to be Mars. So as we dined we were reminded subtlety about our smallness in the great universe of things; Us three in our little microcosm of pleasure being looked down upon from a hundred million miles away… It’s funny how time and distance can do strange things to a man’s head!